When I arrived on Leros a few days ago, the taxi had mistakenly taken me to Pandeli. The upside of this was that I got a glimpse of the Leros windmills sitting majestically on top of the hill. Today I’m going to refresh my memory of them from 18 years ago, so this morning I rise at the crack of dawn to set off before it gets too hot.
At 6.00am, the roads are empty which means that I don’t have to look over my shoulder for speeding cars and motorbikes every five seconds! The sun has already risen and sits low above the horizon casting a golden glow across the bay. Morning dew glistens on the sunbeds and a small boat bobs joyfully on the gentle incoming waves. The architecture in Alinda down to Agia Marina is quite grand and now that I don’t have to dodge the traffic I can amble at a slow pace to take it all in.
I have no need for Google Maps today. When I walked to Agia Marina on my first day and then inland down Charani, I knew instinctively that this was the road that takes me up through Platanos and onwards towards Pandeli. The road Charani takes me past the Church of Agia Marina and the beautiful mansion houses that I’d admired a few days earlier. The road begins to climb and it is steep but there is enough to pause and take in whilst resting my calf muscles. The sun is behind the hill so I have been able to walk mainly in the shade which is a blessing.
Before long I arrive at the back of the imposing but beautiful Church of Christ in Platanos. The sun is now just beginning to peak over the hill, enough to light the large domed roof and terracotta pan-tiled curves so that they glow. Cats moved into warm spots to basque. The Kastro that seemed so far away from Alinda appears almost in touching distance now.
As I continue to climb the steep, winding road, the windmills are now in sight. Over to my right and down below is the town of Pandeli with its wide sweeping bay. I creep towards the edge of the road where a viewing bench sits but my vertigo won’t let me go any further than this. From here I can see all the way over to Lakki Bay too.
I take the sharp bend behind me and this slowly brings me to the string of windmills that lead up to the Kastro. The sign on the gate of the first windmill says that at the third windmill of Apatiki, is a traditional house and is open to the public. Unfortunately I would have to wait several hours for it to open as it is now only 7.30am.
I am now on the side of the sun and this really is a beautiful time of day to see the windmills, just as the sun casts its golden glow over them. There is just me and a man who has driven up to the Kastro and I just about manage to photograph the scene without him in it!
I admire the Kastro from a distance. Having visited it before I don’t feel the need to do it again.
I follow my tracks back down the road and take another street which brings be out at the front of the Church of Christ. The streets go off in all directions and I chase them up and down seeking out door knockers and cats. Eventually I follow a path that takes me down to the village.
Pandeli village does have a certain familiarity to it though there isn’t any particular landmark here that I would say that I remembered. I guess even 18 years ago the focus would have been on those picturesque windmills up above.
I stop by a beach taverna for breakfast. It is 10.00am and already the sunbeds are almost full. In Alinda the people on the beach were predominantly Greeks. Here there is a mixture of non Greek tourists – Brits, Germans and Scanindavians so it feels quite touristy.
After a breakfast that is way too big for me, I walk through the village to Platanos, stopping to take a few photographs of the town hall and square. I begin making my way back to Alinda for some more ‘cooling off’ time in the sea.
I spend my last evening down on the beach at O Kavos Tou Vasili again. I’m not usually a creature of habit but it is easy and I’m feeling lazy.
The following morning after packing, I have a pre-arranged visit at the beautiful hotel Archontiko Angelou. For my day job I work part time for a small tour operator called Hidden Greece. Wherever possible during my travels I try to familiarise myself with the properties that we have in our portfolio – all family run businesses that our founders (both now in their eighties) have built relationships with over the years.
Archontiko Angelou is located in a beautiful mansion house just ten minutes walk away from where I am staying in my budget accommodation in Alinda. The house has been in Marianna’s family for generations and it has been a hotel for 40 years – all tastefully decorated and cared for by Marianna and her staff. The attention to detail in the decor has clearly been done with a lot of skill, time and love from Marianna.
The speciality of the hotel is the homemade vegan products served for breakfast and I’l delighted to have been invited by Marianna to sample it.
For more information on tailor made holidays to Leros, take a look at the Hidden Greece website
For now, Farewell Leros! I’ve loved visiting you again but now it’s time to depart for Kalymnos – the Dodekanisos Pride Awaits!